In 2003, three years before the sweaty torso and grungy Rhodesian accent of Leonardo DiCaprio propelled the issue of blood diamonds to international attention, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established as a way of cleaning up the diamond trade. The result of years of campaigning, it was designed to stop diamonds that finance conflict from entering the global market.
Industry, governments and civil society would work together to build a government-led import-export control scheme. It would restore credibility to an industry bruised by bad PR and, more importantly, prevent further civilian suffering, human rights abuses and conflict.
Six years after its creation and despite having all the tools in place, governments participating in the Kimberley Process are failing to address serious issues of non-compliance – smuggling, money laundering or human rights abuses. Zimbabwe is one of the most striking examples of this failure.
Kimberley Process participant governments must act immediately to restore the scheme's credibility. Firstly they should clarify and reassert the scheme's commitment to upholding basic human rights in the diamond sectors of participant countries. Secondly, members must act to improve and implement the scheme's monitoring mechanisms. Foot-dragging or obstructive behaviour by certain governments must not be tolerated. Finally, the KP must close major loopholes in cutting and polishing centres that allow conflict and illicit diamonds to reach international consumers. As a founding member of the Kimberley Process, Global Witness will be watching and waiting for governments to do the right thing.
The writer is head of communications at Global Witness, a campaign group